The Greyness of Autumn (2012) – By Philip Smolen

Danny McGuire (Duncan Airlie James) has had one tough day. First, he’s fired from his job as a telephone solicitor (when his job is outsourced), and later, his girl Katie (lovely Amy E. Watson) breaks up with him. He’s now fully convinced that society will not accept him. Left without any viable alternatives, Danny decides to kill himself. So he finds his roommate’s gun and contemplates this one final act. There’s just one problem. Danny has no arms. After all, he’s an ostrich.

“The Greyness of Autumn” is a 13 minute short film from writer/director Chris Quick. Set in Scotland, it’s a broad satire of the angst ridden Hollywood movies where a down on his luck individual gets repeatedly crapped on by life until there is only one route of escape (think 1998’s “Leaving Las Vegas”). Of course, the difference here is that our hero is a flightless bird who’s having a rough go of it. He functions in a world designed for creatures with arms. As you can imagine, Danny is at a distinct disadvantage.

Quick’s short is droll and clever. It reminds me of some of the grimy English working-man classics of the 1960s and adds a touch of the lunacy of Peter Jackson’s “Meet the Feebles” (without the gross elements). I’ve always loved movies where puppets and people live and work together and Quick makes this implausibility seem natural.

There is also an undercurrent of social commentary here. Is Quick saying that middle class society is fodder for the rich and powerful just as animals are fodder and feed for humans? Maybe, maybe not, but “The Greyness of Autumn” is a short that successfully pokes fun at the human condition using hand puppets. It’s definitely worth looking for.

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